IRC Mourns Four Beloved Colleagues
On the morning of Wednesday, August 13th, Shirley Case, Nicole Dial and Jackie Kirk were returning to Kabul with IRC drivers Mohammad Aimal and Zabiullah from Paktya, Afghanistan. They had spent the past two days meeting with the local community about an IRC project that aids children with disabilities.
Before they left, Case, Dial and Kirk wrote co-workers about their successful mission and the wonderful discussions they had had with our staff and community members there.
It was during their drive home that their clearly marked IRC vehicle came under heavy gunfire, killing the three women and driver Mohammad Aimal. Zabiullah was severely wounded. He is thankfully recuperating in a Kabul hospital. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
In Afghanistan, where the IRC has provided lifesaving aid and recovery assistance for twenty continuous years, programs have been suspended as the organization evaluates next steps. Meanwhile, IRC staff members around the world are devastated.
“Our hearts are wounded,” wrote a field coordinator with the IRC team in Paktya. “We hosted them here and now their beautiful emotional words and conversation while departing from us and saying good-bye is still whispering in our ears.”
Shirley Case began working with the IRC in Afghanistan in June, overseeing a project that gives children with disabilities equal access to education. Previously, Shirley had coordinated and supported programs for CARE in Banda Aceh and Chad. In Afghanistan, Shirley quickly proved herself to be a “can do” innovator – committed to bringing quality education to the oft-forgotten. “Her enthusiasm and hands-on approach were an inspiration to colleagues and her immense energy and sparkle were felt by all who knew her,” says Lisa Owen, the IRC’s deputy director of operations in Afghanistan.
Nicole Dial dedicated her life to supporting programs that help especially vulnerable children: child soldiers, landmine survivors and marginalized children. She joined the IRC in Afghanistan to provide strategic leadership to the organization’s education and child protection programs there and from the moment she arrived her enthusiasm was palpable. “When it comes to Nic, her commitment to protecting and improving the well being of children is truly unmatched and she brought an incredible depth of experience to her work,” says Owen. “She often would talk about the improvements she intended to make and the challenges she not only welcomed, but relished.”
A long-time member of the IRC family, Jackie Kirk left behind an indelible footprint. “It is thanks to her energy, knowledge and vision that thousands of children around the world are leading healthier, more promising lives,” says IRC senior technical advisor for education and close friend, Rebecca Winthrop. In Afghanistan and beyond, Jackie is remembered as a leader in the field of education, well-known and loved by multitudes of people who have had the privilege of working with her, Winthrop says. “Simply put, Jackie was lovely, thoughtful, insightful, warm, and brilliant. She cared so deeply about the plight of children in armed conflict and for the past several years focused her enormous mental faculties on finding ways to make sure they could access quality, safe and healing education opportunities.”
As a driver for the IRC, Mohammad Aimal touched the hearts of many IRC staff. He started working for the organization six years ago when he was just 19. Infectiously cheerful, “Aimal” was someone who constantly looked on the bright side of life. The hours spent in Aimal’s presence will be remembered by many at the IRC and the contribution he made to a more peaceable, prosperous Afghanistan will be revered by colleagues, family and friends.
“Our much-loved colleagues gave their lives to helping the most vulnerable,” says Greg Beck, regional director for Asia and the Caucasus. “Their senseless deaths are a great loss to the Afghan people and the tens of thousands of children whose lives they have touched in their years of humanitarian work around the globe.”
The IRC's president George Rupp said the International Rescue Committee is "profoundly saddened" by this tragic loss." Words are inadequate to express our sympathy for the families and loved ones of the victims and our devoted team of humanitarian aid workers in Afghanistan," he added.
In the last 48 hours, calls and e-mails have poured in from friends, co-workers and supporters. If you would like to send a tribute, please write care of children@theIRC.org or Emily Miner, International Rescue Committee, 122 E. 42nd Street, New York, NY 10168 USA.
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